Patricia Collinson: 'We must wake up to climate change'

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The Independent Online

The writer is a retired teacher from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, aged 72

I'm not accustomed to joining national environmental protests in Trafalgar Square. At this time of the year, my primary concern is organising Christmas events for my local branch of the Women's Institute, in west Suffolk - and this year is no different. We've had problems this week finding a venue for the evening of pantomimes, poems and puzzles which we are putting on so we've spent the last day or so hunting for an alternative one in Bury St Edmunds.

Yet, somehow, all of that pales into significance when we are told what the effects of climate change really will be. I'm a mother of two girls, have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and I have all of their futures to worry about.

Climate change is the issue which we have to wake up to and worry about, and that is why I have booked my train seat, collected my ticket and will be travelling down to London from Bury St Edmunds on Saturday morning to join so many others to make my voice heard.

Since I retired as a teacher at a middle school, I've found that I am rushed off my feet. I'm involved in a drama group that puts on variety shows. We're planning a musical evening for next year. My WI branch is often busy with the coffee mornings which raise money for Macmillan nurses. We've also raised £3,000 through coffee mornings and other events to help a village in Gambia set up a pig breeding operation.

And yet climate change is the kind of subject which make the more matter-of-fact aspects of life pale into insignificance. I've been interested in the subject for a while. I attended what they called a 'speed dating' event in which we were able to ask some politicians and others about climate change. It was when we asked what they were going to do about it that everything went quiet.

That worries me. This has got to be about more than just doing your own recycling, like we all do in our WI branch. It needs some political inspiration, too.

I don't know what the day of the protest holds for me. There may be a gathering before the main event but I'll just get on the train and head south with my friends. From there, I'll just play it by ear.